The national aviation authority has proposed widening a runway and building more taxiways and aprons on the southern Con Dao Island to further tap its tourism potential.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has said in a document sent to the Ministry of Transport that the upgrade would enable the airport to handle large jet aircraft and increase the airport’s capacity from 400,000 to two million passengers a year in 2030.
The CAAV wants to increase the existing 1,830-meter-long runway's width from 30 to 45 meters to receive large jets such as A319neo and A320neo. At present, it can only handle ATR72 turboprop aircraft with a capacity of 72-78 passengers.
It has also suggested building a 1,408-long-meter parallel taxiway and three new taxiways to connect with the runway.
Another part of the proposed upgrade is a new apron for eight aircraft, a new air traffic control tower on the east side of the passenger terminal, a synchronous airport beacon system and a landing gear system to operate flights at night.
The cost of all the upgrades is estimated at VND5.43 trillion ($235.5 million), including VND76.4 billion for land clearance.
The Con Dao Airport was first built by the French in the 20th century and upgraded in 2003 for commercial use. It has a 3C classification, meaning it can only receive ATR 72 and other small aircraft, and is closed at night because it does not have a runway lighting system.
According a previously approved plan, the airport will serve 500,000 passengers a year by 2025. Currently, it operates only during the day.
Vietnam Air Services Company, commonly known as VASCO, a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines, and the FLC’s Bamboo Airways are the only two carriers operating regular flights to the island at present.
Con Dao, famous for its beautiful beaches and wartime prison, is a tourist destination whose popularity has risen in recent years. In the 2010-2016 period, Con Dao airport achieved an average growth rate of 22.7 percent per year.
In 2019, the island had welcomed 400,000 tourists, up 37 percent year-on-year. In 2020, despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of passengers handled by the airport was 447,750, an increase of 4.1 percent over 2019.
Visitors usually fly to Con Dao from HCMC, Da Nang and Hanoi or travel by high-speed boat from Soc Trang and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces.
By Nguyen Quy